Many years ago, my grandmother taught me to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for future use. This was a practice she learned from her mother during the Great Depression. She told me the story of how it saved her entire family from certain death.

My grandmother survived the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s on the plains of Oklahoma. During the darkest times, when the winds and dust were at their worst, her family more or less lived in the dirt root cellar that her father and brothers had dug out underneath the house.

Because there was not enough food available, or animals to hunt, during the Dust Bowl, canning and preserving became a must. Absolutely nothing could be wasted. Even the scraps left over from the flour bags had to be reused as garments in order to stretch money and resources far enough to survive.

When we set out to do the canning, we first had to pick the fruit. I was lucky enough to be able to go with her to pick the fruit on the family farm. We chose to pick peaches from the tree that had been growing there for over 40 years. There were many peaches. Many, many peaches. We wound up canning a total of 87 jars!

We made sliced peaches, peach chutney, peach jelly and jam, peach compote and peach pie filling. Each jar lasts about 1.5 to 2 years. That comes out to be about 3 cans of peaches to be consumed in a month!

It took us several days to make it happen, but I am glad I learned how to do it. There’s a lot of hard work work making these jars of food correct and making them seal properly. In our increasingly corporate world, it’s becoming a lost art. In fact, many people don’t even know how to prepare basic meals much less prepare food for future food use.

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